We drove the BRP from The Smokies to Shenandoah and found some great food(with the help of Chowhounds!) along the way.
Gatlinburg: Only here one night before we headed north. We were looking to escape the touristy crowds.The Smoky Mountain Brewery was a great place away from the main strip, but close enough to walk from our hotel. The pizza was great and the staff was friendly (they saw our logowear and put on the ballgame without our asking). Good, housemade beer too!
Maggie Valley: Butts on the Creek is a bit hard to find, but only because it's past all of the other places to eat at this stop. The BBQ was better than good and it was nice place to relax, you can sit outside on enclosed deck, next to the creek.
Pisgah Inn: We stayed here, so we ate here. It was very busy and the service was slow. The food was ok. But you come here for the view, which is outstanding!
Didn't stop in Asheville because we are there a lot visiting family. But, if you don't go a lot, you should. Some of our perennial favs are: 12 Bones, Tupelo Honey, Luella's, Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. and Early Girl (not my fav, but my husband loves it)
Spruce Pine: The Knife and Fork was one of our few destination restaurants. We planned our entire day around getting here in time for Brunch and it did not disappoint! We split Chicken & Pancakes, Three Cheese Plate, Chicken Wings & Rabbit Wings. Everything was delicious, but the Rabbit Wings were off the charts! And I am not a huge rabbit fan. I'm going back just for more of those and the great service. Everyone was super sweet and really wanted to know that you were enjoying the food & the space.
The bar at the Little Switzerland Inn: We stayed here, so we ate here. Again, great staff and outstanding bar food. We were still full from Brunch so we ate small plates (Blue Ridge Tapas?) at the bar. Swiss Onion Soup, Homemade Chips with Blue Cheese and Carolina Caprese ( fried green tomatoes with homemade pimento cheese & a red pepper puree). We had breakfast in the main dining room the next morning and it was good, but nothing special. Apparently there is a good view, but we couldn't see it with all of the fog.
Linville Falls Community: Famous Louise's Rock House is indeed a rock house. It is also on the National Register of Historical Places. I had a housemade Pimento Cheese sandwich and my husband had a burger with the same pimento cheese. It was great pimento cheese, but it wasn't a good as the pie!
Boone: The Gamekeeper was another destination restaurant, and it was also worth it. This was my favorite restaurant of the entire trip (including a few days in DC after the Shenandoah). We showed up early and relaxed at the bar. I thought that it might be a little too fancy (from the website), but it isn't at all. It's a cozy, elegant space and the people are exceptionally nice. We split, as we do, the following appetizers: Mixed Grill (including ostrich, antelope, rabbit and alligator sausage and bison sausage), Pork Belly, Gazpacho and, of course, the Cheese Plate. It was all fantastic, but I was surprised by how much I loved the antelope... I really, really, really loved the antelope! I will be back.. someday.
Mt. Airy (or Mayberry?): We decided to make a detour and have lunch at The Snappy Lunch. We wanted to see "Mayberry" (Andy Griffith was born here and based a lot of the show on his hometown) and try famous Pork Chop Sandwich. It was strangely fantastic! I ordered mine with everything (tomato, chopped onion, mustard, coleslaw, and a special chili sauce). It was messy. And wonderful.
Meadows of Dan: We didn't eat here, but did discover Blenheim Ginger Ale. The best ginger ale I have ever had. And I've had a lot of ginger ale. You can get it in Hot, or Not as Hot. I had the Hot.
The Peaks of Otter: Another place that we ate because we stayed. It's old school in a not so good way. My husband had the Fried Chicken and I had the Prime Rib.The food was not bad, but it was very average. I am pretty sure it's your only option if you stay, but I would recommend finding another place to do both. We did see a lot of wildlife on and around the lake from the huge windows!
Shenandoah: The Spottswood Dining Room (at Big Meadow Lodge) is a beautiful place with great food and a wall of windows along the back wall, perfect for watching the sunset. This is old school done right! I had Chesapeake Fried Oyster Stew and we split the Rainbow Trout and Black Iron Roasted Smithfield Pork. We also split dessert, which we very rarely do. The Blackberry Cobbler is amazing and the Blackberry Sundae is something else... good, but a little too much sweet for my savory tooth. I would eat here even if I weren't staying overnight!
If you need more tips, I found this Travel & Leisure article waiting for me when I returned: http://www.travelandleisure.com/artic...
I hope this helps someone as I had a a heck of a time trying to figure out my food itinerary for the drive, but it was worth the extra effort, mostly.